McKnight Foundation names Rendon Distinguished Artist of the year

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Marcie Rendon has won The McKnight Foundation's 2020 Distinguished Artist Award. (Photo courtesy Jaida Grey Eagle.)

By Marianne Combs/MPR News

The McKnight Foundation has chosen author Marcie Rendon to receive its 2020 Distinguished Artist Award. The annual award recognizes a Minnesota artist who has made significant contributions to the state’s cultural life.

Rendon, an enrolled member of White Earth Ojibwe Nation, is the first Native American woman to receive the award in its 25-year history. Last year the award went to Ojibwe painter Jim Denomie. Rendon said she’s honored and humbled to receive the award.

“I am pleased that I am the second Native American to receive this award as I think that it demonstrates the depth and breadth of influence Native Americans have on the arts in the state of Minnesota,” she said. “In my mind’s eye I see Native artists as the backbone, the spine of all that is created here.”

Rendon is the author of the Cash Blackbear mystery series, which includes “Murder on the Red River” and “Girl Gone Missing.” She’s written four non-fiction children’s books, including “Powwow Summer,” and she’s also a prolific poet and playwright.

In announcing the award, the McKnight Foundation cited Rendon’s commitment to amplifying Native American stories and drawing attention to the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women.

McKnight’s Arts program director DeAnna Cummings said recognition of Rendon’s body of work is long overdue.

“It is work that speaks directly to the experiences, the voices, the dreams of Native American people,” said Rendon. “And folks who create work of, by and for their community… generally don’t receive big fancy prestigious awards.”

The McKnight Distinguished Artist comes with $50,000. Rendon said the money will help her to finish several literary projects, including the third installment in the Cash Blackbear mystery series.

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